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First mass of the year Sunday 11:30am

First mass of the year followed by a meal and hopefully a walk:).

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Christ The King Catholic Chaplaincy

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Starts 22/09/13 11:30am

 

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Sunday Student Mass at Christ the King is followed by lunch and a walk.  What other church offers so much.

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Here you will find all the news from Plymouth CathSoc and Catholic Chaplaincy, this pages pull news from our blog, check it out for more info.

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Hierarchy and Equality

Posted March 3rd, 2015 by

 

Jesus was not from the tribe of Levi, to which the priests and those in charge of religious activities belonged. Nor was Jesus part of any religious party or association – he was not a Pharisee nor a Sadducee. He was on the side of the common man and He saw how the leaders of God’s people acted.

However even from the perspective of seeing how poor the leaders were (not practicing what they preached and not being merciful) our Lord does not suggest doing away with them. Our Lord wants leaders who are not so much concerned about what they look like nor what others think about them, but men of integrity and who are humble. No religious leader should stand in the way of a person and their God. Jesus makes this point by saying “Call no one Rabbi”, “Call no one Father” and “Call no one Teacher”. Jesus is not banning the normal use of these words, because the words would then just drop from usage and lose their meaning. Jesus is making His point through hyperbole and it is not to be taken literally.*

We are being reminded today of the profound equality of all children of God. No member of the Church should think themselves better than others. No one should be seeking titles and honours. We all share an equal dignity given us by God through our creation, and new creation in Christ by baptism. However our Lord does not suggest bringing down the hierarchy! The Church has a hierarchy but no member of the hierarchy should consider themselves better than anyone else. Each member of the Church is called to grow in holiness and draw closer to God, and each of us must strive to do that through the grace given us through the Holy Spirit – this is true of priests, bishops and popes, as well as the Religious and the Laity. We are all in the same boat struggling against sin and seeking grace to grow in Christ and bear the fruit of the Spirit. Yes we should honour those that sit in the seat of the Apostles because through them we honour the Apostolic and therefore Christ, but the man who sits in the seat is not better than anyone else. We are all where we are through the grace of God alone.

Each member of the Church has their vocation and their work to be doing. We must all pay one another the respect due to our dignity in Christ, and we all must pray for one another that we will resist temptation and grow in the life of grace.

Amen.

Fr Ian

NOTE

* “father” is used in the New Testament referring to human fathers (Heb 12:7-11) and spiritual fathers (1 Cor 4:15 ; Philem 10), and this emphasises Jesus was not intending His words be taken literally.


If only it were easier!

Posted February 27th, 2015 by

In today’s gospel reading (Mt 5:20-26) taken from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminds us that His Way is not the easy way. It is tempting to think that it would be better if our religion were less demanding and easier to practice – and sometimes we even try to make it so.

Although our Lord demands much, He also shows us the Way to fulfil those demands. In the Sermon on the Mount, He points us to where the key to this fulfilment is located: the heart. It is from the heart that our motivation, ideas, and thoughts emanate. So renewing the heart is a key part of the gospel message, hence why He calls us to repentance and belief.

So we must consistently examine our hearts. From this examination we must give thanks to God for His grace in the good virtues we show, and we must confess and ask for forgiveness for the sins we have committed; not only that, but our relationships with others must come from the heart. If we even harbour anger against a brother or sister we must be reconciled. If we are filled with lust towards a brother or sister, then we must confess the sin – it is adultery in our Lord’s eyes. If we harbour anger we must deal with that even if we haven’t expressed it.

It is at the level of the heart that we must work, and perhaps the most important part of that work is confession and thanksgiving. This Lent why not attend confession more often than you would usually and also make a point of regularly thanking God for His goodness and His grace at work in your life?

Fr Ian

 

 


Knocking on the door

Posted February 26th, 2015 by

Christ knocking on the door of the heart

When you visit someone and they do not know you are coming, how many times do you ring the bell, or, knock on the door, before turning away? Is it once? Or do you keep on ringing for a minute? Five minutes? How often do you return to try again? Perhaps it depends on how urgent it is you see the person?

In our Lord’s teaching about prayer one thing is very clear. It is not that we need to attain a certain psychological state. It is not that we need to have a type of feeling. One thing is clear, we need to persevere. We need to have the drive to pray and to continue in prayer.

In the gospel today our Lord assures us that if we ask, we shall receive. We should note here that He does not say “we shall receive it straight away.” But He asks us to trust our Heavenly Father to give us what we need. If a child asks his father for an egg, would the father give the child a scorpion? Of course not! So much more, our Lord tells us, will our Heavenly Father give us what we need. So in prayer we need to have buckets full of perseverance born of trust in the Goodness of our Heavenly Father.

So then if God does not seem to answer our prayer straight away, what is happening? Well first we must trust there is a reason. We need to persevere in trust. We do not need to have a reason. The Father does not need to explain Himself to us! But we need to continue trusting that our Father hears us and will, when the time is right, answer our prayer.

For us, of course, we want instant answers: if google will answer our queries within seconds why not God? Of course we do not entrust to google what we bring to God in prayer! And we also need to keep reminding ourselves that God sees the overall picture so knows precisely when an answer to prayer is needed. We need to trust that.

I think one very helpful understanding of prayer is from St Paul, that it is a “groaning”, for he tells us that if we cannot pray as we ought, the Holy Spirit will pray for us with groans too deep for words. In prayer we may need to get to that stage where we can only groan! Our Father may want us to persist in prayer until all we can do is sigh, or groan. (Romans 8, esp. v26)

So let us ask today for the gift of perseverance in prayer – and let us pray that the Holy Spirit will indeed pray for us in sighs too deep for words. And let us be filled with confidence in our Heavenly Father who will indeed answer our prayer when it is best to do so. Amen.

 

 


The less aware we are of our sickness the less likely we will call a doctor

Posted February 25th, 2015 by

“A humbled contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.” Ps 50

We frequently hear about the value of positive self-esteem and confessing our worth today, but how often do we hear about the value of confessing our faults? Even the word ‘sin’ is hardly ever mentioned outside of Christian circles. And amongst Catholics in this country, there has been a radical decline in the use of the Sacrament of Penance. Of course the two things are related. The less aware we are of our ‘sickness’ (i.e sin) the less likely we are to call a doctor (i.e. sacrament of penance).

The Ninevites responded to the preaching of Jonah and repented, and the Lord forgave them. Many of the Jews of Jesus’ time thought that they were good by virtue of being children of Abraham, and did not need to repent. Jesus told them that they would be judged by the Ninevites, for He was greater than Jonah, yet they did not repent. Christ continually exhorted people to “repent and believe.”

In response to sin there can be two extremes: over-scrupulous and un-scrupulous. If previous eras were characterised by over-scruples, our present era is characterised by insensitivity to sin.

God has made us good in our being, but we are not entirely good in our lives, choices and actions. Made in the image of God, we have however marred that image due to original sin. We are ontologically* good, but not morally good. Usually we get things muddled, for we think we are ontologically worse than we actually are, and we think we are morally better than we actually are! The problem is that we measure ourselves against the standards of the world rather than the standards of our Lord!

Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.” (CCC 1451) Let us pray this Lent that we may be given a contrite heart that we may be astounded by the knowledge that we are made in the image of God (ontologically good), but also be grieved to the heart that we have marred that image by our sin, though also filled with joy that the Father heals us through His Son in His priests.

Fr Ian

Note: * ontology is the study of being, so to be ontologically good means we are good in our very being or existence (God made us good). This can be in contrast to our moral state, that is, the choices we have made. Though created good in our being, we have the freedom to choose the good or the evil. So human beings are always ontologically good no matter what moral choices they make. By confession we acknowledge the incompatibility of our ontological goodness and our sinful choices.

 


The perfect prayer of the perfect Pray-er

Posted February 24th, 2015 by

“The Lord’s prayer is the most perfect of prayers … In it we ask, not only for the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired,” thus said St Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica (also CCC 2763). And St Augustine said, “Run through all the words of the holy prayers, and I do not think that you will find anything in them that is not contained and included in the Lord’s Prayer” (also CCC 2762).

If we seek to renew or re-invigorate our prayer then returning to the Lord’s prayer is the most important thing for us to do because it is the perfect prayer given to us by the perfect Pray-er. We learn to pray by going to our Lord’s school of prayer.

In our Lord’s school of prayer He wrote just one textbook with just fifty-five words in it.

He did not give us psychological techniques but the actual words of a prayer; a prayer, though, not to be just repeated mechanically.

When someone begins to play an instrument they begin by learning to read music. First they play the music mechanically. One note comes after the other. But as time goes on the music begins to flow. It is no longer a mechanical procedure, it now becomes something of beauty.

We must pray this prayer not just with our words. We must pray this prayer not just with our words and our minds. We must pray this prayer with our words, our minds and our hearts.

One of the key things to understand here is that we will only truly understand the words with our minds when we also will them with our hearts. When we desire and want what God’s wants, what God wills, then we will understand His word in this His prayer.

One of the best places to reflect more deeply about the Lord’s Prayer is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Access for free online or use the copy you have at home. There is a wealth of reflection on this perfect prayer by the perfect pray-er.

See CCC 2777 – 2865

Fr Ian

 


The gift of time

Posted February 23rd, 2015 by

Today we hear the Parable of the Final Judgement (Matthew 25: 31-46). It begins:

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes…’

Jesus is talking about the end of chronological time. He is talking about the moment that heralds in eternity. Eternity is qualitatively different from chronological time. At the end of time there is no chance for us to be anything other than what we are.

The trouble with talking about this parable is the modern dislike for the idea that God judges us at all. In the mind of modern man it seems to imply that God has a list of rules and if we disobey these rules we will be punished. Of course this image of God is a faulty one.

So what is divine judgement like? What our Lord says is that it is like a shepherd separating sheep from goats. What are we to make of that though? I think the key to understanding what our Lord is saying is actually quite simple. Sheep are what they are! Goats are what they are!

This is not predestination, rather, once we have reached the end of time nothing can change in us. Then we are who we are. Chronological time is God’s gift to us. Time is God’s gift for us to change. Time is the divine gift for us to make the eternal choice.

Finally what our Lord reminds us is that what we choose is revealed by our actions. Remember St James exhorts us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.

So in this time of Lent think about time – remember you are using God’s gift of time, the time in which we become who we are through our choices, through what we do. The choices we make, and most of all the choice whether to use the grace given to us or not, will determine who we are at the end. God forgives and God can heal the wounds of sin, but we must choose whether to cooperate with His grace or not.  At the end of time we get what we have chosen – that is Judgement!

Fr Ian

 


Sharing at table

Posted February 21st, 2015 by

Is 58:9-14 ; Ps 85:1-6 ; Lk 5:27-32

Our Lord’s choice of person to share table fellowship with, scandalises the Pharisees and their scribes. The reason they are disturbed is because “sinners and tax collectors” are unclean. Yet the extending of mercy to outcasts is a sign of the Kingdom of God. Christ has come not only to heal the sick of body, but also those who are sinners. Christ’s mission is the forgiveness of sin, for which He was willing to die. Christ invites sinners to conversion. Without conversion no one can enter the Kingdom of God. Christ discriminates against the self-righteous who think they have no need of God. Christ does not welcome the proud, until they humble themselves to repent. God’s mercy is endless and there is indeed more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents because unrepentant sinners cannot enter into the Kingdom of God!

We might consider that the problem with the Pharisees was that they were caught up in their own interpretation and development of the Law. Many Christians accuse Catholics of something similar: of building up “traditions” that are human interpretations of the Scriptures – whereas, of course, they believe they have a pure faith based upon Scripture alone (sola Scriptura). The opposite is actually the case. Holy Tradition is in fact the guidance by the Holy Spirit leading the Church into all the truth, something which our Lord promised would happen (for He didn’t have the time to teach His disciples everything they needed). Catholics submit themselves to the Sacred Tradition given through the Holy Spirit and guaranteed by the Magisterium (teaching authority). They do not interpret Holy Scripture with the first thought that enters their head. Rather they listen to the Holy Scriptures within the Church, within the guidance of the Holy Spirit that is the Holy Tradition. Personal thoughts are just that, personal thoughts! Personal thoughts do not save! Just because we think we are nice Christians and feel close to God does not mean our thoughts reveal God’s Word!
So this Lent let us discipline our reading of Holy Scripture and submit ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit through Sacred Tradition, not through personal interpretation. One very easy way we can do this is to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church and look up the citations of Holy Scripture. When we are reading a passage from Scripture look it up in the citations and find the paragraphs in the Catechism that refer to it. Then we shall know what it is the Holy Spirit has revealed to the Church about those particular verses in Scripture.
Fr Ian

Expecting favours from God?

Posted February 20th, 2015 by

The sulk!

Isaiah 58:1-9 ; Psalm 50 ; Matthew 9:14-15

“Why should we fast if you never see it, why do penance if you never notice?” (Is 58v3)

The people of Judah fasted so that God would hear their public petitions – possibly so that there might be rain for their crops. They are concerned by the perceived silence of God. Had they committed some sin without knowing it? Or did God like to humiliate people who asked for favours? And so the people lie in sackcloth and ashes. But God pointed out through His prophet, that there was an inconsistency – why should He answer their prayers when at the same time their business practices were unjust?

This situation of the people of Judah is a warning for us too. It is the condition when we are content with a certain level of religious observance. We can think that by a certain level of observance we can expect certain favours from God: for things to go our way, and for some sufferings to be avoided. We say to ourselves, “I have observed what is required of me, I deserve a reward.” But God may well be silent, and suffering and adversity may visit us.

The Lord is clear that He is concerned not just with those who observe the precepts of religion; He is concerned with all people. There is a profound inconsistency in practicing religious precepts and also practicing unjust labour laws, of oppressing our employees or perpetuating any injustice we have some control over.

God does not want disciples who merely observe certain religious precepts but the rest of their lives are inconsistent with their profession of faith. When the disciples of John complained that Jesus’ disciples were not fasting (Mt 9:14-15), Jesus challenged them to re-think why they were fasting.

To be grumpy and complaining about our fasting is to misunderstand its purpose. Fasting is an expression of inner conversion. We are bringing our bodily appetites into good order and under our control so that we can turn to Christ our Saviour, the Bridegroom, more completely.

The season of Lent, the season of penitence, the season of inner conversion, is not therefore a gloomy season of the Church’s year. Yes it is a season of restraint and sobriety, but in order that we can focus more deeply on the things that truly matter : our relationship with Jesus Christ who by His grace draws us into the divine life of perfect love. And if our relationship with Christ is on the right footing, so will our relationships be with our neighbour.

Surely that is something to be joyful about and not grumpy?

Fr Ian


“Okay, its either life or death – which do you choose?”

Posted February 19th, 2015 by

A fruitful tree is an image of Christ’s cross

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 ; Psalm 1 ; Luke 9:22-25

I love the bluntness of the reading today from Deuteronomy (30:15-20):

“See today I set before you life and prosperity, death and disaster.”

When put like that of course there is no choice! Who would choose death and disaster? But actually that is what we do choose when we do not follow God’s way. When we go our own way we are in truth opting for the way of death and disaster. When we go the way Christ has led then we are opting for life and prosperity. The bluntness of Deuteronomy helps to remind us of this basic Christian truth.

This same point is reinforced in the psalm at mass today (Ps 1). The man who places his trust in the Lord is like a tree planted beside flowing waters that yields its fruit in due season. Following the divine path results in the bearing of fruit – again it is a life-giving path to follow. The result of making our decisions according to God’s ways, is life.

In the gospel today our Lord reveals the secret of bearing fruit. It is paradoxical. The more we cling on and grasp onto life, the more we lose it. When we are anxious and afraid we tend to try to grasp and to cling in desperation. But clinging on desperately and grasping in fear do not lead to a solution to our problems. Rather it is trusting in the Lord, trusting in Jesus Christ, that will lead us to the greatest of fruit-bearing trees: His fruit-bearing and salvific cross.

This is the path we are to follow in our keeping of Lent: in self-denial, in prayer and in almsgiving.

Fr Ian


Remember that you are dust!

Posted February 18th, 2015 by

On Ash Wednesday ashes are “imposed” in a solemn ritual at masses across the world. The ceremony is unlike any liturgical action performed throughout the rest of the Church’s year.

The ashes are made from the palm crosses that were blessed and handed out the previous Palm Sunday. They are collected and burned and the remains are ground up into powder. I make my own each year.

During the Mass the ashes are blessed by the priest before they are “imposed”. In a procession people step forward and the priest puts the ashes on the forehead in the shape of a cross, saying, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” This is taken from Genesis 3 v 19.

What does the ash symbolise?

  1. Death: We are reminded of our mortality, for when we die our bodies decompose, or “they return to dust”. So we hear Abraham say to God “I am but dust and ashes” in Genesis 18:27. Whether death is just around the corner or many years hence, one thing is certain, we are going to die! So on Ash Wednesday we are asked to face our mortality, but not in a morbid and hopeless way, but in the faith of Christ crucified – which is why the ashes are imposed with a cross. Christ has died and redeemed us so that we have real hope. Yes we will die, but by the grace of Christ we can live beyond this death.

And indeed is death is coming we need to be prepared for it! Let death not catch any of us unprepared! Let us be prepared by living God’s ways.

  1. Repentance: When the prophet Jonah warned the Ninevites that God was going to visit judgement upon them for their wickedness (their depravity and corruption) the people of Ninevah covered themselves with sackcloth and ashes as a sign of their repentance – they showed visibly that they were turning away from their evil ways.

So ashes are a plea to God for mercy, pardon and forgiveness. And they are also a public confession of our sin. Other people can see that we admit out sinfulness publicly, but also crucially that we bring them to the cross of Christ. We are sorry for our sins but we know they can only be forgiven through the cross of Christ, the grace He won for us once for all.

(Tip: If someone comments on your ashes, use the opportunity to explain to them something of your faith and why you do it.)

So we begin Lent by publicly saying sorry for our sins, and that we want to use Lent to correct our faults, purify our hearts and control our desires – and thus to grow in holiness, and be better prepared to celebrate Easter with joy filling our hearts.

Fr Ian  16th February 2015


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